Sony has been hard at work serenading indie developers in hopes of attracting more exclusive content for their current and next-gen platforms. It appears that hard work is paying off, because Sony is making some sizable changes to bring indie games into the PlayStation Network spotlight. As if adding an entire indie games section to the PlayStation Store wasn’t enough, which kicked off with a discounted release of Retro City Rampage, the official PlayStation blog just announced the addition of three new games coming exclusively to PlayStation platforms.
The first title is called Doki-Doki Universe (working title). Developed by HumaNature Studios, founded by Greg Johnson, creator of ToeJam and Earl (yeah, now we’re talking old-school street-cred,) Doki-Doki Universe is described as a “RPG/Simulation/Interactive Story game.” Fun fact: “doki-doki” when written out is usually ascribed to mean the sound of a heart-thumping, or otherwise describing excitement, in Japanese. The sound of a heartbeat can often be inferred to highlight someone being alive or in an emotionally-heightened situation, and as it turns out, that’s one of the major themes at play in Doki-Doki Universe.
The game is centered on a robot named QT3, who was left on an asteroid and abandoned by his human family. Learning the hard lesson that “when it rains, it pours,” QT3 is then greeted by a strange-looking creature named Alien Jeff, who explains to QT3 that his particular model is being recalled and terminated because it lacks “humanity.” Alien Jeff has been assigned to accompany QT3 on a series of situational adventures to determine just how much “humanity” the robot possesses, afterwards reporting back to his company to ultimately decide the robot’s fate. Thus, adventure is born. QT3 will go on a journey to find his humanity and interact with hundreds of bizarre and fascinating creatures while Alien Jeff studies his every action.
Doki-Doki is actually more than just a singular experience, it is a set of related products that will be released simultaneously. The first experience begins by downloading the free game, which will be available on the PS3, PS4, and Vita. This “light” version of the game will enable players to explore the universe and take personality quizzes, but interacting with characters will require purchase of the full game. The second aspect of Doki-Doki is a free-to-download messaging app for mobile devices, which provides cross-platform chat. “From within Doki-Doki players can use Doki-Doki Mail that ‘magically’ animates anything you type,” Johnson said. This effectively “lets you communicate in playfully expressive ways with friends who also have the game or the mobile app.” No release date has yet been determined.
The second game announced is Hohokum, a project being developed by Sony Santa Monica. Slated for release on PS4, PS3, and Vita sometime in 2014, Hohokum combines the talents of artist Richard Hogg and London-based game studio Honeyslug. It is described as a playground, and the developers hope it will be an experience players can wander around and get lost in.
Hogg explains that, at its core, Hohokum is about breaking the traditional pillars of video game mechanics. There aren’t any Game Over screens, there’s no mini-map pointing toward an objective players must complete; there’s simply a whimsical, enchanting world to explore. Of course, there are secrets to find and goals to discover, but the experience is in the moment-to-moment journey.
Assuming the role of a snake-like, umm, thingy, players simply explore the world and see the sights. Those who choose to wander will create their own adventure, discovering hidden objectives and even unlocking a few trophies along the way, all in the totally random order in which they are found. Hohokum was actually an Indie Games Festival Finalist back in 2011, and since then they’ve paired up with Sony Santa Monica and are close to sharing their vision with the world. More details and gameplay footage will be shown later next month at E3.
The final announcement features a new project called CounterSpy. In a post by David Nottingham, co-founder of development studio Dynamighty, he offered a few details about the action side-scroller set to release on the PS3, Vita, and mobile devices. Players take on the role of a C.O.U.N.T.E.R. agent, tasked with infiltrating the impenetrable bases of two warring Cold War foes, each becoming increasingly close to launching a full-scale nuclear attack on one another. Fighting through legions of foes in an effort to reach and sabotage the missile guidance systems before nuclear war is declared, the agent will have to rely on clever gadgets and weapons unlocked via collecting blueprints if the mission is to be successful.
Nottingham admits that the team’s goal is making a love-letter to the action side-scrolling genre. CounterSpy was molded by the fundamentals introduced in classics like Metroid, Out of this World, and Impossible Mission. With a distinctive Cold War-era aesthetic, that also bears more than a passing visual resemblance to Killer7, CounterSpy offers a unique blend of familiar action and original style. A primarily single-player game, CounterSpy will feature some form of cross-play functionality that will be revealed at a later date.
Doki-Doki Universe, Hohokum, and CounterSpy will arrive on select PlayStation platforms and, in some cases, mobile devices, by the end of 2014. Each title offers a unique take on classic genres, or otherwise breaks the traditional notion of genres altogether.
Are you folks excited to hear about these new indie titles? Which among them are you most interested in? Would you like Sony to continue their push to support indie titles such as these, or are you more fond of the big-budget, action-epics? Share your thoughts in the comments section.